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Rev. William Barber, the originator and leader of Moral Mondays in North Carolina said, “We must not allow the extremists to occupy the moral and constitutional high ground. We must lift up our highest moral and constitutional values.”

80,000 people turned out for Moral Monday in North Carolina last week. Rev. Barber, leader of the North Carolina NAACP, is now planning a new Freedom Summer to register and turnout a massive vote next fall in North Carolina.

Similar ongoing mass movements have begun in Georgia, South Carolina, and Virginia at least. This movement in North Carolina began as nonviolent resistance to a draconian right-wing state legislature, legalized voter suppression, and other legislative assaults on the people of North Carolina.

It is no accident that progressive faith leaders have initiated and driven this growing movement using as their foundation moral and spiritual values of social justice, love, and fairness. Whether it is Jewish clergy who were amongst the first whites to speak out for racial justice, Quakers and Congregationalists who helped run the Underground Railroad, or the African-American ministers who followed Dr. King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, including John Lewis, Dr. Joseph Lowery, Rev. James Orange, and Andrew Young. The teachings of Old Testament prophets and Jesus have animated a major part of the historic social, racial, and economic justice struggle in America.

Progressive movement organizers like Cesar Chavez and Saul Alinsky have long taught us that the most fundamental rule of organizing is to start with where people are, not where we wish they were. And many, many potential warriors in our ongoing struggle for justice in America can only be reached through a moral appeal to their spiritual values.

A lifetime ago I was moved by the foundation of my faith to begin a life of organizing. But when my organizing led me to Atlanta, Dr. Joseph Lowery, and Rev. James Orange both my commitment to a life of struggle and my faith were strengthened by their teachings and their lives.

Photo: Moral Monday demonstration in North Carolina

Photo source: alexmh17 on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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